I couldn’t believe I had missed this TV series. Apparently, it first aired in 2008 and is currently on its 4th season. To say that I’m addicted is a pretty apt description.
It is a science fiction TV series that centers on a division in the FBI that investigates unexplained and weird occurrences that are somewhat explained by fringe science. The Fringe team is composed mainly of Agent Olivia Dunham, Dr. Walter Bishop and his son Peter Bishop. They are joined by Agent Phillip Broyles and Agent Astrid Farnsworth.
A great feature of this show is its ability to present new cases or new “patterns” each episode that are traceable to the overarching story. There is that amazing threat of continuity that it is a treat for the viewers to be presented with such details that you know would play out later when one gets to look into the larger picture. Another strong suite of this show is that its core story is a really great one, which promises much in terms of amazing story lines.
I appreciate that a very basic value presented in the story is that of morality. Oftentimes science and faith intersect and even collide, not quite meeting eye to eye. This show is basically science fiction what with fringe science and all that that entails and the issue of right or wrong comes to the fore. And the great dynamic is that there’s this large grey area in the whole debate. But that It’s not merely a question of right or wrong in shades of just black or white. A character does one thing and justifies it with his or her own reasons. And while for the other characters, it was wrong, his or her reasons were understandable. They had basis and when you wear their shoes you could say that you would have done the same thing too.
I also appreciate how the whole story line highlights that every action, every decision, every choice has its consequences. And sometimes these choices you make for yourself do not only affect you but other people as well in ways that you might not think to imagine. One of the recurring themes of the show is how one action creates a ripple-like effect on the course of events in the universe and consequently on the lives of people.
Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble)
Wikipedia describes him as the archetype ‘mad scientist’. And coming from the mouth of his own son, he may just as well be ‘Dr. Frankenstein.’ But I think more than him being a genius, a great mind, a superior scientist, he is, more than anything else, a father; a father whose desperation in wanting to save his dying son had pushed him to think and do the impossible and the irrevocable and is only now realizing the errors of his ways, the far-reaching effects of his selfish decision. I think his strength as a character is in his flaws.
In the first season, I was slightly disappointed that his character was merely on the periphery. It had been Olivia and Walter at the forefront of the story. But at the same time, I love that this was the season that showed the complementary aspect also of his relationship with his father. And I think the first season was a wonderful baseline for the following seasons. I appreciate that his character is just as flawed as everyone else. He’s obviously very smart but he has made mistakes in his life as well, mistakes that would label him a criminal to a point. I think it was only in the latter part of the second season and onwards that his character fleshes out in a way beyond his role as Walter’s son but as Peter the person and that’s what I think I’m looking forward to seeing more of.
Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv)
Olivia’s character seemed rather trite at first simply because it’s like a character that we’ve already seen before: agent, does her job well but who was emotionally distant to everything and everyone… but then the story develops and you see more and more of her as a person and you can’t help but love her and root for her. She’s a good person. It’s as simple as that. And her past and all that she’d been through not only help the viewers understand why she is the way she is but also help the viewers appreciate that she’s a strong person despite of all those things in her past.
Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick)– the senior FBI agent in charge of the Fringe Division. He’s a good man. I get the feeling that he sometimes acts fatherly towards Olivia. He does his best to sustain the operations of the special division.
Agent Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) – another FBI agent assigned to the Fringe Division as well but most often she assists Walter in his lab in Harvard.
William Bell (Leonard Nimoy)– he’s Walter’s closest friend and former lab partner in Harvard. While Walter was admitted to a mental institution, he went on to build one of the largest companies in the whole world, Massive Dynamic. Most of the episodes especially during the first season, his name was only just ever mentioned and viewers were left guessing what he looks like. He runs Massive Dynamic through its Executive Director Nina Sharp.
Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) – she’s the executive director of Massive Dynamic and the most trusted person of William Bell. Most investigations carried out by the Fringe Division always present ties with this massive company and its unconventional and most of the time top-secret researches and experimentations and so the Fringe team always gets to interact with her.
Father and Son
I’m always up for a great love story, particularly the romantic kind. But once in a while there’s a great one that is not of the romantic kind but still gets to your heart. One of the reasons why I love this show is because of the dynamics of the father-son relationship of Walter and Peter. I think that more than the Peter-Olivia story line, Walter and Peter’s relationship is the core of the show. It’s what sets the whole story running, so to speak. And it’s what propels it onwards. I appreciate that Walter is the kind of father who obviously loves his son very much. But what I appreciate more is that Walter is the kind of father that would practically do anything for the love of his son. This love for his son is basically the driving force behind everything that he has ever done in his life and seriously one of the most, if not the most, compelling aspects of this show. One would expect that a model of a good father would be one who provides for his son, one who encourages him in his endeavors, or supports his son. Those things are traits of a wonderful father. *SPOILER ALERT!* But what of a father who died a little each time his experiments fail to give him the cure for his dying son, who attempted and succeeded in travelling to a parallel universe in order to save his son?
Olivia and Peter
I had waited two seasons to see these two get together. And just when I think they were about to, the writers give us a big twist in the story. At the outset, I was not really thinking about these two together what with the first season talking about Olivia and her almost-fiancée. But then there would be these little moments (you know the writers did a great job in spreading these out in the episodes and providing just a hint of what was supposed to be there) that would start to make you think that maybe these two should get together. ^__^ And when I noticed those little tell-tale signs, I was a goner: a certified Olivia-Peter shipper. What’s special about them I think is there compatibility, their being somewhat the two sides of the same coin. Or to be more precise, they seem to truly complement each other. They have their similarities in character, like being good at keeping other people at arm’s length, but together, you know they can overcome that to be something more of themselves.
I sincerely hope that this series that does not end up getting ‘lost’ somewhere along the way. I am happily noting that with 4 seasons in, the writers still manage to create and inject the mysteries into the big picture and that it does not seem to be losing steam just yet.
I think the premise of the story was a brilliant idea. How such a premise was expanded is truly worth noting. I haven’t done a TV marathon of a series since NCIS and it was truly worth it. Solid writing and great acting. Can I just take a moment to say how truly incredible John Noble is as Dr. Walter Bishop? It’s just that when he cries, I can’t help but cry along with him, when his memory eludes him, when he cries for the unintended circumstances of his past choices, each time his greatest fear stares him at the face, that of losing his son. He’s really the lynchpin of this show.